NZ – Christchurch – CYFS ‘may have saved lives’ – “Tough call” says Peter Burns – CHCH McKenzie Friend –

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CYF ‘may have saved lives’


Last updated 05:00 12/09/2009


David Hallett

IDENTITY REVEALED: Murder accused Jason Somerville who appeared in the Christchurch District Court, charged with murdering his wife Rebecca and Tisha Lowry.

Removing three children from a couple now at the centre of a double-murder case in Christchurch may have saved the children’s lives, says Child, Youth and Family (CYF).

Jason Paul Somerville, 33, appeared briefly in the Christchurch District Court yesterday charged with murdering his wife, Rebecca Sarah Somerville, nee Chamberlain, on August 30 this year and neighbour Tisha Lowry on or about September 25 last year.

Police found the bodies of the two women buried under the floor of Somerville’s Aranui house on September 4.

Name suppression was lifted as an expressionless Somerville was remanded in custody for a post-committal hearing on November 12. His lawyer, David Ruth, said a psychiatric assessment would be done “at some stage”.

The Somerville’s moved to Christchurch three years ago from Taupo after their three children were removed by CYF.

CYF head Ray Smith said he was confident the agency had “done the right thing by these children”. He said CYF had worked hard over a long period to strengthen the family so they could stay together.

“Sadly, when all attempts to address the complex issues facing this family had failed, we were left with no choice but to seek permission from the courts to remove the children from their parents’ care,” he said.

“It may very well be that the decision to do so saved their lives. This is an extremely sad case. There are now three children without a mother.”

Peter Burns, who acted as a Christchurch Family Court advocate for the couple in their attempts to get their children back, said Rebecca Somerville was “immensely upset” that the children were not returned after believing she had met CYF’s 17 requirements.

“She had cleaned herself up, relocated and done everything they requested, and she was still without any chance of retrieving the children.”

He said she had written a letter outlining her case in April this year with the aim of getting a lawyer to represent her.

Somerville said she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after previous abusive relationships.

Her first child from a previous relationship was removed from her care as an infant but returned in 2002.

She married Jason Somerville in 2003, and their first child was born in April that year.

After their children were removed in 2006, the couple were asked to seek further family support, and moved to Christchurch, where Jason Somerville had several relatives.

Rebecca Somerville said in her letter that she became depressed, which led to drinking and self-harm. However, she said she was alcohol-free and had not self-harmed in more than two years at the time of writing the letter.

Burns said he could not find a lawyer to take the case, despite a dozen approaches.

Judging the validity of CYF’s comments that removing the children may have saved their lives was a “tough call”, he said.

Somerville’s funeral service will be held at her former Taupo Baptist Church at 1pm today.

Church senior leader Keith Harrington confirmed that her three children would attend, but he did not want to comment on their care. “We have been in contact ever since this happened, but we’re very protective of the children.”

The carers of two of the children were church members.

Harrington was surprised by comments from CYF that removing the children from the couple may have saved their lives.

“No-one I’ve spoken to, including professionals, had predicted possible events like this. I suppose it’s speculation, isn’t it?”

The Chamberlain family said in a statement that she was “a well-loved member of her family and had many friends”.

“She was struggling to get her life back on track and was making good progress and we are proud of her and her achievements,” the family said.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the three families involved and we feel for their loss.”

At the same time as the Taupo service, Lowry, who also had three children, will be farewelled at a private family service in Christchurch.

Lowry, 28, disappeared as she was walking to her Hampshire St home, two doors down from the Somerville house, on September 25 last year.

Jason Somerville was a keen Trade Me user, buying more than 100 items since becoming a member in February 2007.

His purchases reveal he was keen on do-it-yourself projects, buying many building construction books and equipment. He liked rebuilding old arcade games and bought parts. He often bought books, including some on quitting smoking, and on religion. His latest DVD purchase was World Trade Center.



2 Responses to NZ – Christchurch – CYFS ‘may have saved lives’ – “Tough call” says Peter Burns – CHCH McKenzie Friend –

  1. jimbwarrior says:

    From CYFSWatch

    OR… maybe CYFS actions contributed the result we see today. Maybe by removing the children, it made matters worse. Had CYFS done what they were supposed to do, and HELP the family, then none of what happened since the removal would have happened.

    Maybe… had the children be removed and CYFS helped the parents clean up their act, which is what they are supposed to do, they could have PREVENTED the murders… but we shall never know. CYFS has a habit of removing children from parents then treating them (the parents) as if they do not exist, except, in the Family Court, refusing to return the children no matter what changes the parents might have made.

    The thing is, CYFS is treating this as a victory, but they could not have known this was going to happen, if they even suspected it, I’m sure they would have gotten other help for the parents.

    So, for CYFS to claim they saved the lives of the children is despicable. They destroyed yet another family and this is the result. If no murders had taken place, then the family, children included, would have been traumatized for life.

    Sadly, the end result will be the removal of more children from families as a FIRST result, rather than the last. They will hold this up to justify their actions in such cases.

    But, having them now say they maybe saved lives is beneath contempt, the truth is, it could have gone either way, the mother might never have been murdered, what then would be their excuse for not helping the family? They are using that dead mother to justify ALL their actions, if we could ask the mother, I’m sure she would have a story or two to tell about the treatment she got from CYFS.

    Two lives saved? How many children have died while in CYFS care? A lot more than TWO. Maybe if CYFS had tried harder then history could be different today, instead of them using this dead mother whom they failed, as a reason for doing what they do to all families?

    nuff said!


    This entry was posted on Saturday, September 12th, 2009 at 9:07 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
    One Response to “CYF ‘may have saved lives’ (OR, our take on it…)”
    September 12, 2009 at 10:31 amAnd I wonder what Sue’s take on all this will be?

    #51 JimBWarrior
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    September 12, 2009 at 3:13 pmWell – Up on Equal parenting @ Ration Shed BLOG – Onward – Jim

    #52 JimBWarrior
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    September 12, 2009 at 3:13 pmSorry – Should of been;

    Well said – Up on Equal parenting

  2. jimbwarrior says:

    Further Comment from TV One and Peter Burns

    GO –

    Removing children may have saved them

    ONE News Rebecca Somerville
    • WATCH the video (3:00)
    Child Youth and Family say a decision to remove the three children from murder accused Jason Somerville and his wife may well have saved the children’s lives.
    Mr Somerville was charged last week with the murder of his wife , Rebecca. He was also charged with the murder of Tisha Lowry, who had lived near the couple, when he reappeared in the Christchurch District Court on Friday.
    The bodies of the two women were found under his Wainoni house last week.
    For the last three years his wife had tried desperately to get her children back, but Social Welfare says it is confident removing them was the right thing to do.
    Friends told ONE News that the couple struggled to look after the children and needed help with the house work. Church groups in Taupo had tried to help them but it was not enough and by the time they shifted to Christchurch all three children had been taken away.
    Checking online websites, ONE News found comments from Mrs Somerville showing just how much she missed her children and wanted them back.
    She had written about her first Christmas without the children saying: “This year we have no children with us, we are not even going to see them. We have put up a tree and hung our three stockings up believing they will be returned to us in the new year.”
    However, the children were not returned to them.
    A friend of Mrs Somerville’s, Peter Burns, says she got very depressed over not having her children.
    “She got very depressed when she found out the children wouldn’t be relocated and it was a tough time for her but we supported her through it,” he says.
    The battle seemed to be taking its toll on Mrs Somerville as she wrote on websites that her confidence and self-esteem had been squashed and that under the pressure she cracked and tried to kill herself.
    The children remained in foster homes in Taupo but Mrs Somerville always remained hopeful.
    “It was a struggle for her but she hit rock bottom and she bounced back and all credit to her. She was good and they both attended AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and were supportive of each other,” Burns says.
    For months Mrs Somerville expressed her anger at Social Welfare, claiming she had been betrayed and that they were “cold hearted Nazis”.
    The fight to get the children back was on-going and those helping her say the signs were encouraging.
    “It was just a sad situation and it was on the mend,” says Burns.
    Even though Mrs Somerville was critical of the way Child Youth and Family handled the situation, the agency released a statement on Friday afternoon saying they are confident they have done the right thing by the children.
    CYF say they worked hard over a long period of time to strengthen the family so they could stay together, but when attempts to address the complex issues facing them failed they had no choice but to remove the children from their parents’ care.
    CYF say it is an extremely sad case as there are now three children without a mother.

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